Ah Saturday. Class are over, no birthday parties, no obligations. And there’s a chill in the air.
It’s nearly perfect.
But Josh is a Saturday worker.
At the Austin house there aren’t any pancake and p.j. Saturday mornings, but sometimes, if things are just so, a Saturday will feel like a Saturday.
This was one of those Saturdays.
So I made bread.
Kneading dough for bread must be one of the most satisfying activities. The 10 minutes of kneading dough for Italian bread went rather quickly.
The recipe I used comes from Maryann Patten. Maryann is one of those people who cooks and bakes everything beautifully. If Maryann made it, it’s got to be good.
Maryann’s Rustic Italian Bread
Recipe makes 2 loaves
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour 2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 cups warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
cornmeal 1 slightly beaten egg white 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, the yeast and salt. Add water. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl. Then, beat on high for 3 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough smooth and elastic. This will take 8 to 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Flip the dough once over to coat with the oil. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough. Divide it in half and cover, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle them with cornmeal. Roll each half into a 15×12-inch rectangle. Roll up the rectangle and seal it well. Taper the ends. Place the loaf seam side down on a prepared baking sheet. Brush with a mixture of egg white and water. Let the loaves rise until nearly double–about 45 minutes.
When the loaves are almost there, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make 5 or 6 cuts 1/4 inch deep across the tops of the loaves and bake for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until golden. Cool the loaves on wire racks.
This bread is best warm. Slice it and spread on some butter or rip off a hunk and dip it in olive oil.
If I could dedicate this bread to anyone it would have to be my friend Celess. She is the one who taught me how to make a meal out of a loaf of bread. Just the bread. Yes, the whole loaf. She’s amazing.
The Year of the Bread marches on.